Mania slowly eats your brain (seriously)

Mania, the horrible mistress of bipolar disorder. We sometimes take it for granted in it’s early stages, hypomania, but in a full blown out manic episode, everything can go to hell. Many people accidentally kill themselves in manic episodes. But did you know, that during an episode, you’re killing your brain?

“Episodes of mania and depression may cause damage to learning and memory systems”(1)

Long term patients showed more cognitive impairment than those younger, or newly diagnosed. Bipolar disorder and time are not your friends. After 5-7 years, the newly diagnosed showed some cognitive impairment.

It can be blamed on medications, but that’s untrue. They can cause cognitive slowing but they aren’t a culprit. Some medications even repair parts of the brain, and are considered to have neuroprotective properties.

The brain breaks down as the disease goes on, and it isn’t able to process information the way it used to. (Remember, bipolar is a kindling disease, if left untreated, it just gets worse and worse, and the damage increases per episode)

“People with bipolar disorder suffer from an accelerated shrinking of the brain”(2)

Gray matter in the brain is lost during an episode, in the areas of the brain that control memory, face recognition and co-ordination.

“Evidence has been overwhelming that bipolar disorder is a disease of the brain, like Parkinson’s or MS”(3)

Those with bipolar disorder have enlarged ventricles in the brain and extra white matter, for example. Impaired awareness (50% of those with bipolar disorder are aware of their disease, diagnosed or not) is because of decreased activity in the pre-frontal area. This is similar to a stroke victim.

Results of MRI’s from the mentally interesting and people without mental illness show that those without mental illness had more gray matter in their brains.(4) Gray matter is consisted of nerve cells. An essential amino acid, called NAA, was monitored in bipolar patients and the amount decreased as the illness progressed, which indicates damage to neurons. These findings are comparable in Alzheimer’s.

In conclusion, if you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and want to make the best of your life, take your medications, live a healthy lifestyle, don’t drink or do drugs and learn some insight to get proper treatment before an episode happens.

And just remember this: What goes up, must come down.

  1. http://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/articles/brain-damage-from-bipolar-disorder/

  2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070720103036.htm

  3. http://www.pendulum.org/disease.htm

  4. http://www.ehow.com/about_5245785_effects-bipolar-disorder-brain.html

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I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar

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The title of this book caught my eye and was the reason I bought and downloaded it. There is a stigma to “crazy” and “bipolar”, and this book explains the high’s and the low’s in the first person, with incredible detail.

Her descriptive writing portrays how she feels at the time the words were written, and it is very relateable if you’ve gone through this yourself. She, like many others, never thought there was anything wrong with her, until she saw it after getting arrested, on video.

She begins the book with an interesting prologue describing how she got diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was a college student, 6 weeks away from graduating, and the school psychologist caught her in the midst of a manic episode and sent her to the psychiatrist. Her parents were called and they were told to hospitalize her. She refused to be hospitalized and finished her semester, on medication.

She did use drugs for many years, heavy marijuana use and alcohol didn’t help her illness. She eventually turned to cocaine and later crack cocaine, given to her by a boyfriend, and lost everything because of it. She sobered up after that.

She has a good use of dark humour but doesn’t have much insight into her mental illness until much later in her life. When she’s manic, the writing is frantic and a bit disorganized, and when she is depressed, you can definitely tell.

She makes poor life decisions, like meeting a man in Las Vegas after quitting her job and flying there, to find out he’s married. She goes into a depressive episode when her friend and uncle die, then she loses her job, friends, and money.

Her psychiatrist isn’t working out for her, so she goes off of all her medications and sees a chiropractor that insists vitamins, exercise and hypnosis will get her out of the depressive episode. They don’ work and she sets up an elaborate suicide plan, which fails, and she gets into a car accident and wakes up in a psych ward, where she undergoes ECT and there is no improvement because the doctor’s didn’t do it correctly.

During another suicide attempt she is interrupted and stops, thinking it is God telling her not to kill herself. She also lies on train tracks and gets up at the last second. She ends up in a better hospital, which is also a rehab facility, and gets more ECT, done correctly this time, helping with her depression. Her ECT experience is relateable to me, as well.

She is promiscuous and meets a telemarketer that sold her a cell phone. He smokes crack, and they break up. She would frequent a nude beach and it made her feel better about her body, but she also had sex with many men.

She turns her life around, giving good advice for one with bipolar disorder to take. Such as, no alcohol and drugs, sleep properly, exercise, take your meds as your doctor prescribes them, listen to others around you.

I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and I related a lot.It shows the rollercoaster hell of bipolar disorder and how destructive mania (which many people think is just an elevated mood) can be.